Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happy Memories of Chickpeas

Well, it wasn't Meatless Monday this week, but it was Veggie Wednesday. I made a vegetable curry, an Indian-type curry made with wonderful curry powder my mom sent me. She got it at a great market somewhere in the Napa Valley area. I can't remember exactly where or the name of the market (even though I've actually been there once or twice). The curry wasn't completely vegetarian because I used chicken stock (actually Better Than Bullion dissolved in some water--love this stuff), but it didn't contain any actual meat. You could substitute water or vegetable brother for the bullion to make this truly vegetarian.

I do not like garbanzo beans much at all. I don't like them in salads, I don't like them in soups, I don't even really like hummus. I think it's partly taste and partly texture. However, for some reason I like chickpeas (I prefer this name to garbanzo beans, maybe because I think of garbanzo beans as being something you add to salads.) in curry. I think I like them because they pick up lots of flavor from the curry, and they simmer long enough to be soft, so the texture issue is moot.

 I never would have known I liked chickpeas if it hadn't been for an Indian restaurant called Deboo's (I think that was the name) that used to be in the Bel Air shopping center in Natomas. The first time I went in, the owner asked what I wanted to order. I said I wasn't sure, and he said he would make me something good. He gave me tandoori chicken, some naan, a cauliflower dish, and curried peas & chickpeas. I didn't think I'd like the chickpeas, but they were surprisingly good.  I was happy to expand my culinary vista.

 Here's what I did to make my vegetable curry:

 First, I cut a leek lengthwise and then thinly sliced it into half rings. I sauteed these in a small amount of fat (equal parts olive oil & butter). After the leeks softened, I added a tablespoon of curry powder and stirred that around for a few minutes. I then tipped in a can of drained & rinsed garbanzo beans and a small to medium potato cut into chunks. I dissolved a rounded teaspoon of Better Than Bullion Chicken in 1.5 cups warm water. I poured that over the beans & potato chunks. I let this simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes.

Once the beans were tender & the potato cooked, I added some cornstarch to thicken the sauce and added some zucchini. I let this cook a little while longer until the zucchini was cooked but not mushy. I was going to add some spinach or cabbage but my pan was full, so I just left it as it was. It turned out really well. I served the curry over some rice.  I think it made about 4 servings.  Anyway, I have leftovers.

 The other way I like chickpeas is as falafal. Okay, so it's not really the same, but falafal is made with ground chickpeas. The first time I had a falafal was in Boston. Some friends took me to a tiny, hole-in-the-wall, Middle Eastern grocery near Haymarket. It's right along where they have the outdoor fruit & vegetable market during the warmer months.  The shop is down about 5 steps from street level, and you have to duck to avoid whacking your head on the top of the door frame. Inside there are shelves of groceries and bins of spices. Tucked to one side is a food counter. You can get takeaway of various types including shawarma & falafal sandwiches.

There is a little old man who works behind the counter. I never did get his name, but everyone referred to him as Falafal Man (though not to his face).  He makes the food, and it is delicious! For the falafal sandwiches he takes a piece of flatbread (locally made), spreads on some tahini & harissa, layers on some veggies including small wedges of dill pickles (unexpected, but delicious), and then tops that with falafal which he smashes a bit to break open and then wraps it all up. The sandwich is delicious, and Falafal Man is such a sweetie.  Several of us from Simmons went to see him right before graduation to say goodbye and to get a last falafal sandwich. He came out from behind the counter and hugged each of us. Next time I visit Boston, I am definitely going back.


  1. Yumyum! Can you please leave out the chick peas?

    1. Lol, yes. You can substitute another bean or add some chicken instead.

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